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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Indicted for Bribery and Fraud


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on Thursday on allegations of widespread corruption.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit publicly announced that Netanyahu was being charged in three different cases with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, according to a report from Haaretz. The cases, formally referred to as Case 4000, 2000, and 1000, respectively, make Netanyahu the first sitting Prime Minister in Israeli history to be charged with bribery.

The bribery charges against Netanyahu, which are particularly serious, reportedly center around his involvement in an alleged deal to intervene in regulatory matters that financially benefitted Israeli businessman Shaul Elovich. At the time, Netanyahu was serving as Israel’s Communications Minister.

Elovich, who owned the Bezeq telecommunications company and the Walla News reportedly netted approximately $500 million from a quid pro quo deal. For assisting Elovich, Netanyahu was reportedly granted the authority to change how Walla News covered Israeli politics, benefitting Netanyahu and targeting his opponents with negative stories.

Attorneys for Netanyahu claim that he merely attempted to push Walla News to pursue a more balanced political perspective while also arguing that positive news coverage would not constitute a bribe under the law.

Netanyahu is also accused of attempting to bribe the publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper for favorable news coverage by promising to limit the circulation of a rival paper. These allegations form the basis of Case 2000 in which Netanyahu is accused of breach of trust and fraud.

Case 1000, which also accuses Netanyahu of fraud and breach of trust stems from allegations that he used his public office to solicit gifts from billionaires James Packer and Arnon Milchan for himself and his family.

PM Netanyahu is scheduled to address the public in a press conference later Thursday.

[image via GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.